How to Build an Epic Cheese Board for any Occasion
Cheese boards are incredibly versatile and can be utilized for pretty much any occasion. As an appetizer for your next dinner party (or the main course!), as a gorgeous addition to brunch with your favorite ladies, or a meal that just needs an extra something! Cheese boards are both beautiful and delicious, and can make any meal or occasion classy. (I made the spread above for a quick dinner while binge-watching the rest of a TV show with a friend. Which just goes to show that you really don’t need an excuse to create beautiful cheese boards.)
You can get as fancy or as simple as you want to with building cheese boards. You can spend $20, or you can spend a whole lot more depending on what you want to do. I can usually get everything I need at Kroger or Whole Foods!
I don’t personally think there’s a wrong way to assemble a cheese board, though I’m sure I could be proven wrong pretty quickly. I always start by thinking about what kind of occasion I’m preparing for. Is it a small get-together or a larger gathering? Is this a snack or an appetizer, a side dish, or the main meal? What season is it? What time of day is it? (Brunch cheese boards, anybody?!?) Are there any dairy-free people in your party? Are there any nut allergies? All of these things go into deciding what to include in your cheese board. The list below is my go-to list when I’m trying to decide what to include with my next cheese board. There are so many more options than are listed, but these are my personal favorites and a good starting point for building cheese boards for any given occasion.
My go-to list when choosing ingredients for cheese boards:
Disclaimer: You can choose as many or as little ingredients as you’d like. These are just what I generally aim for when building cheese boards! Obviously the quantity of each ingredient and the amount of ingredients you choose will largely be determined by the amount of people you’re planning on feeding, and whether it’s going to be an appetizer or the main course. These are just my own personal favorites - feel free to experiment and use your own favorite ingredients! Pro-tip: Whole Foods has a little basket of smaller cuts of cheese between $3-5 in their cheese section that you can buy to try a wider variety to figure out what cheeses you love! Some Krogers have little boxes of them too!
Cheese Board Essentials:
How to Build a Cheese Board:
1 ) Start with your cheeses.
When assembling a cheese board, I usually start with the cheese first. I usually slice some of each cheese, then leave the rest for people to slice themselves, or put the rest back in the fridge. This depends entirely on the crowd and how much cheese I think we’ll get through! If I know we’ll eat it all, I just go ahead and slice it all. (The only cheese I won’t slice ahead of time is brie - it’s supposed to be served at room temperature, and because it’s such a soft cheese it will just melt together again anyway.) I position the cheese around the board, and then build everything else from there.
2 ) Add charcuterie.
Next I put out the charcuterie, again positioning and scattering it around the board or tray. Sometimes I roll them, other times I fold them once or twice, sometimes I just lay them out flat. You can get as creative with this as you’d like! I don’t have it down to a science - I just play around with it until I like how it looks. (Also - while charcuterie is a great addition to any cheese board, you don’t have to include it if you don’t want to - they are just as great without it!)
3 ) Add bread and/or crackers.
I usually add any bread or crackers next, squeezing them in between the cheese and meats here and there. If you have a loaf of bread, you can cut some of it into slices and leave the rest for people to cut themselves if they want more. This will keep the bread from drying out if you’ll be lingering for a while.
4 ) Fill in with fruit, veggies, nuts and olives.
After I’ve gotten the cheese, charcuterie, and carbs how I want them, I just fill in the rest of the board with the remaining ingredients. You can build it as minimal or as full as you want to! I’m partial to really full cheese boards, but every occasion is different. Fill in the rest of the spaces with fruits, veggies, nuts and olives. You can pile everything as high as you want, or put things like nuts or berries in little bowls if you’d prefer.
Cheese boards for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Perfect for hanging w/ the gal pals, slow mornings, etc.
I LOVE incorporating cheese boards into brunch spreads. It’s the perfect way to get rid of any leftover cheese, charcuterie, etc. from hosting the night before or earlier in the week! Brie is a great soft cheese for brunch - serve it at room temp, paired with a French baguette (bonus points if you warm it up in the oven) and some blueberry jam! This is also a great time to pile on the fruit! Grapes, blueberries - whatever you have on hand is great! Fry up some eggs and bacon, and make some coffee and you’re good to go! Gosh - I get giddy just thinking about it. The spread below is from New Years Day this past year. My husband and I hosted a pajama party for NYE the night before and had lots of ingredients leftover, which led to our very first brunch cheese board - and I haven’t been the same since.
For all of your lunch meetings, gatherings, and picnics!
I have a soft spot for extravagant lunches. My time in Italy back in 2013 ruined me forever in the best way possible - that delightful mid-afternoon carb coma, lingering around the table for hours… There’s just something so luxurious about taking the time to slow down over a gorgeous meal in the middle of the day. Obviously you don’t want to have to immediately take a nap afterwards, so I love pairing cheese boards with this deliciously light, but hearty salad to balance out all the cheese and charcuterie, or this gorgeous Italian-inspired arugula and asparagus salad!
For dinner parties, picnics at the local vineyard, or your next night in.
I love throwing extravagant dinner parties with cheese and charcuterie boards. The thing to keep in mind when throwing a dinner party with cheese boards as the main course is that you’ll want to make sure to include plenty of other filling ingredients like bread, crackers, pretzels and hummus, etc. Basically just stock up on everything! Also, keep in mind that the charcuterie is usually the first thing to go, so you might want to double up on the meats! I constantly underestimate the amount of charcuterie we’ll eat. One of my favorite things to include with my cheese boards is prosciutto and melon. It’s a pairing I discovered and fell in love with in Italy, and it takes me back every time. All you do is cut cantaloupe into small slices and wrap them with strips of prosciutto. This salty, sweet, juicy combo is delightful!
More on building epic cheese boards:
Yeah, you heard me. My absolute favorite cheeses right now are made from either goat’s milk or sheep’s milk! Midnight Moon (a goat gouda from Cypress Grove) is my FAVORITE of all cheeses right now. It’s salty and nutty and perfect in every way, and you can find it at Whole Foods. I can usually find a goat gouda at Kroger if I don’t want to make the trip to Whole Foods, but let me tell you - it’s worth it! My other favorite cheese right now is called Drunken Goat, and you can find it at either Kroger or Whole Foods. It’s been soaked in red wine, so the rind is purple. It’s mild and creamy and delicious! Manchego is a salty Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk and is also a great option!
Like I mentioned before, leftover cheese and charcuterie are great as a brunch option! They’re also great for last minute hosting. I love having things on-hand that are easy to throw together in the event we have unexpected company. Cheese boards are such an easy thing to throw together for last minute hangs! They also make great snacks if you are in between meals and get the munchies!
Don’t Overthink It
Like I said - it’s really hard to mess up building a cheese board. Just experiment with different ingredients, figure out your own go-to’s and favorite pairings, and keep moving things around until it’s just right!
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